Tuesday, 3 September 2013

WakaWaka Power

Yet another one of my Kickstarter rewards has arrived (finally)

A bit of history on this. This was on Kickstarter (link) and finished funding on Jan 11, 2013 this year. It was supposed to ship in May 2013 and supposedly finished shipping in late May, with people reporting that they had received theirs in June. And the KS creator had an update saying people would receive theirs latest by 15th June (link). Time went by and I hadn't received mine yet, except the KS creator kept replying to PMs saying 'you'll receive yours in 3-4 days' except it turned into weeks and I had nothing. Seriously, if you're going to promise 3-4 days then try and make sure it's 3-4 days. Come mid-July, I still had nothing, the creator had been giving a lot of empty promises and I was annoyed as hell. I ended up pestering their support email a lot because they kept saying I would receive it within a few days when I didn't. That's not even mentioning the fact that the tracking number they gave me was INVALID in the first place. 

Also, I did not receive the package in 3-6 working days as they claimed. I didn't even receive it really.

It took me 3 more weeks of pestering before they would finally send out a new unit because I sure as hell never received my original one. And this time, they finally sent it with a tracking number. 

So after 2 months of chasing; because seriously, I should NOT have to pursue this matter so DAMN intently, I finally got my wakawaka power in late August. So anyway, I tested it out. According to the KS page, it should achieve 75% battery capacity within 6 hours on a 50 degree latitude location such as NY. Well, Singapore is a lot sunnier than NY most of the time so I figured it may take a shorter time. 

So far, no luck. I've been testing it out for a week, letting it hang out in the sun in my office. First, I discharged it fully and then put it out in the sun to charge up. It took 2 days to hit 50% and since then it's been stuck at 50%. After a week. Of hanging out in the sun. 

Of course, it's not a fully scientific comparison. There could be multiple factors. Maybe I got a faulty one, maybe it's just not hitting the correct angle. Either way, I don't really care. There are several other people who have commented that they can't get theirs to charge above 2 lights either, which makes me think there probably is a faulty batch somewhere. Either way, I should probably try and get a replacement but to be honest, my dealings with the company for the last 2 months where I was TRYING to get an answer from them has drained me of all enthusiasm for this project and this device. 

So, in conclusion, I'm not sure this device is useful in the way it's supposed to be useful; ie. as a solar-rechargeable portable battery. Mostly because it takes way too long for the battery to charge up via solar power. Sure, you can charge it up via USB like most external batteries but what would be the point? For the price and the capacity of the battery, you'd be better off buying an ACTUAL external battery pack. If I had a choice of whether to back this again or not, I wouldn't. Not just because the device didn't really live up to my expectations but because of the horrible communications of the company. They can claim they want to bring this tech to Haiti so that all those poor Haitians can benefit from solar-powered lamps etc but when you can't even deliver it on time to the people who backed you and who live in developed countries with developed infrastructure and pretty decent postal systems...Well, learn to walk before running really. 

Also, it's amusing to me that even NOW; 3 months after they claimed to have finished shipping, there are still people who haven't received theirs and are bugging them on the Kickstarter comments page about it and yet they haven't bothered to ship out anything either for them. Really makes you wonder about the company.